In Part 1 of our two-part sunscreen myths series, we busted 5 common sunscreen myths. Unfortunately, myths about this essential part of your skin care regime abound, and it is often difficult to separate fact from fiction. In Part 2, we’ve broken down 5 more common sunscreen myths to help keep you safer from skin cancer and sun damage.
6. I only need to apply sunscreen to my face, as it’s the only place to show damage and develop cancer.
Chances are likely that the first place your dermatologist will check for skin cancer is along your lips, nose and near your eyes. This doesn’t mean, though, that these are the only places to show sun damage or be affected by cancer. In fact, the first place to show signs of age from the sun is your hands. It makes sense, too! Most of us immediately wash after we apply sunscreen. Common locations for skin cancer to develop include the scalp (especially in balding men), ears, neck, legs, chest and back. It’s important to make an annual full-body skin cancer screen part of your health care agenda.
7. The chemicals in sunscreen are almost as harmful as the sun’s damaging rays.
It’s true that some sunscreens might contain damaging agents. However, many formulas available today are free of harmful chemicals and safe to use daily on every member of your family. Some healthcare professionals encourage their patients to avoid sunscreens with chemicals including:
- Oxybenzone, which is a common allergen and possibly linked to hormone-related interactions
- Parabens, which are preservative chemicals that can cause irritation
- Fragrances, which can also cause irritation and allergies in sensitive individuals
Your dermatologist can recommend a sunscreen formula for your skin type. It also might be wise to look for sunscreens that are labeled “broad spectrum” and “water-resistant” as these two offer the most protection from the sun.
8. It’s OK to apply my sunscreen at the pool or beach, or right before I head out the door.
It’s important to know that the best time to apply sunscreen depends on the formula you choose. For example, sunscreens that protect the skin with sun-filter chemicals like Avobenzone need time to absorb into the skin before they are most effective. These formulas should be applied before other products, especially cosmetics with a mineral element (think foundation or powder), which can limit the skin’s absorption of the chemicals. On the other hand, sunscreens that use sun-blocking chemicals like zinc-oxide or titanium dioxide, should be applied last. These kinds of chemicals create a barrier that would prevent the absorption of moisturizers, serums, or other beneficial products.
9. SPF in my moisturizer or foundation makes other sunscreen unnecessary.
It’s best to think of the sunscreen in your moisturizer, BB or CC cream, foundation, or other cosmetics just a bonus. Most users don’t apply these products in the quantity necessary to create meaningful protection. Additionally, the sunscreen in most of these products isn’t considered broad spectrum, so it’s not providing the same coverage as your usual sunscreen.
10. Using sunscreen every day will prevent me from getting enough Vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency can cause undesirable symptoms like bone pain and muscle weakness. And while spending time in the sun is important in helping your body absorb this essential nutrient, it isn’t the only source. You’ll find vitamin D in supplements and all sorts of foods, including milk, fortified breads, fish and egg yolks. Additionally, chances are you’ll get enough vitamin D from any incidental sun exposure, even if you’re wearing sunscreen.
Read more Sunscreen Myths: Part 1